For many artists the opportunity to generate touring invitations is a major reason to attend the Fringe, as it provides a platform to gather press attention and to get your work seen by potential bookers.
Is your show suitable for touring?
Questions to ask
- Is your show of a high enough quality to garner invitations from promoters? Be realistic about its likelihood of standing out from the many other shows being performed during the Fringe.
- Has this show or previous work by the same artist/s been the subject of favourable reviews, great audience word of mouth, awards, enthusiastic feedback from other artists?
- Have you supporters in the arts world who think highly of your work: promoters who regularly book you, venues who offer developmental support?
- Technical constraints are the norm when performing at the Fringe but have you ensured that the work will be presented in a way which will show off its qualities as best as possible?
If you are hoping to tour with your show, consider ways to design your show to be tourable without huge additional expense.
Some things to consider:
- Is it or can it be made portable, perhaps by being broken down into from smaller constituent pieces?
- What are its minimal requirements in terms of lighting and sound?
- Can set, props or any particularly specialised lighting or sound equipment be sourced locally by the inviting promoter?
- What size van (if travelling by land) and what size flight boxes or packing crates (if travelling by sea or air) will your set, props and equipment require?
- Is your cast committed and contracted to touring, should the invitations arise?
- If you lose a member of the cast to other work, what sort of time and cost would be needed for re-rehearsal? Be aware that international bookings can take place anywhere between 6 months to 2 years in advance so make sure the work you are selling is available.
- Do the company have up-to-date passports and are any members likely to have problems with immigration to other countries, for example because of an earlier overstayed visa or criminal conviction?
- Do you have the administrative support necessary? Remember, pulling together a tour is a time-consuming affair.
Are there any additional elements that would make a difference to the desirability of the show? For example, is the company good at giving workshops? If so, what ages and skill levels could you serve?
Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Many performance programmes are connected to universities; could your company deliver workshops to the student body?
- What could workshops cover?
- Performance skills, does the show includes unusual elements?
- Making or adapting skills - does the show include interesting set or props, puppets or found objects used in interesting ways?
- If the show is technically complex (not ideal for a touring situation) then could lighting and sound technicians offer workshops or master classes?
- Can the company offer post-show discussions or Q&A?
- Does the theme of the show lend itself to broader debate and could company members sit on a panel to discuss that theme? Particularly overseas, a good wraparound programme may be the element that makes a company seem like good value for money.
Assuming invitations are forthcoming, four things will dictate the kind of tour you end up making:
- The venues and audiences your show is suitable for
- Who you know
- Who you get to know
Some practicalities to consider:
What size and type of space does your show suit best: rural and community halls? Schools? Small, middle or large-scale venues? Outdoor or unusual spaces? Be realistic about where you can perform but be prepared to be flexible if you can.
Are there any elements of the show that will limit the audience: nudity, swear words, sexual or political themes? If you are planning an international tour, other additional elements may impact on where you can tour, particularly language or cultural constraints. If your show contains very dense or colloquial text, consider if and how it might be made more accessible: subtitling, plot synopses, amendments to text or accent etc.
Who to target
- Review your existing connections and networks for suitable promoter matches
- Target existing supporters of your work - invite them to see your performances in Edinburgh and then, where appropriate, to suggest and introduce to you suitable contacts of theirs.
- Work with the Participant Development Coordinator and with your own networks to identify who else is in Edinburgh that you should be approaching and encouraging to see your work.
Remember, the Fringe Society's Arts Industry Office can help you plan a tour or assess your show's viability. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk it through with them.
Setting a touring budget
It is important to understand the real costs of your show being on tour. Once you have calculated these and fixed upon a fee that you wish to charge, or a box office income that you need to reach, you can then negotiate with confidence.
When calculating your basic fee, the main things to consider are:
- salaries of cast and crew
- running costs of your production (refreshment of props, cleaning costumes etc)
- marketing costs (including multiple DVDs and promotional packs with which to pitch to programmers)
- a proportion of both the original production costs and your ongoing overheads.
This last is important to calculate, as tour admin can be expensive. International tours may necessitate long telephone calls and high bills.
Be aware of what you are including and, importantly, what you are omitting. If you are leaving certain elements out because their cost is dependent on where you are touring (for example travel, subsistence, freight costs, equipment hire), make sure that the person with whom you are negotiating realises that these additional charges will need to be covered. Do your best to mitigate these additional costs, for example companies willing to share rooms will substantially lower their host’s accommodation bill.
Make sure you have allowed for some contingency and get a reality check on your final fees from someone you trust: a programmer, funder or friendly touring company who can tell you whether your fee is high or low compared to others.
- Made in Scotland Onward International Touring Fund
One of the key aims of Made in Scotland is to maximise the benefit for Scottish artists on the international platform that is the Fringe. As part of this, funding is available to support any work created in Scotland which attracts interest from international promoters as a result of being showcased at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - it is not just limited to those companies which have been part of a current or previous Made in Scotland Showcase.
Visit the Creative Scotland website for more details
- Mobility First! – ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative
Through this new initiative, the Asia-Europe Foundation supports the mobility of artists and cultural professionals for cross-border activities that include participation in events, networking, research, and collaborative meetings. Mobility support is provided to selected individuals for travel from Asia to Europe, Europe to Asia & within Asia.
Visit the ASEMUS website for more details
Different venues you negotiate with may offer you different kinds of agreement. Most companies would prefer to be paid a guaranteed fee, but you may be offered a box office split or a guarantee against a box office split.
Before accepting these deals, ask about the likely box office income and your share of it: have they programmed similar work and how well has that done? How did they market similar shows and how will they be marketing yours?
What, if any, costs (credit card charges etc) will be extracted from the gross box office income before it is split between you? If you have accurately budgeted your own costs you will be able to decide how big a risk you are taking and your willingness to take it.
Sustainability while on tour
There is currently a sector-wide call for theatre makers to be conscious of the impact that touring their work has on the environment.
No one size that fits all when it comes to sustainable activity. Don’t be intimidated by the challenges or assume that you need to do and bring everything that a larger company might feel the need for. If you are a small company with a simple production, then you can possibly double up on roles (ie. director and production manager), be more flexible about your technical requirements and cut back on costs.
Touring schools (UK)
There is not a definitive list of which schools take or don’t take productions. This is because it all depends on factors such as budget, space/facilities, focus, ethos of school and most importantly the individual teacher’s preferences as they are the ones that organise visiting productions.
How to approach schools
- Send your information to the Learning/Education departments of each local authority in the regions you want to tour the work
- This information should include teacher support packs, tech spec and costs.
- These departments can then circulate your show information throughout their schools to see if there is any uptake.
Touring schools in Scotland
- For Scotland, write a teacher’s resource pack outlining specifically how your production supports the outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence. You should demonstrate how you can accelerate learning in line with the curriculum.
- Structure the pack like an interview; ask the Director about the central themes of the show, ask the playwright why he/she chose to write it, ask them both about style and ideas. Ask the cast to talk about their characters; who they are, what motivates them, their relationships etc.
- Call each of the schools you want to target directly and compile a database of drama/expressive arts faculty contacts. Teachers are incredibly busy and receive lots of stuff, they tend to book shows that are reputable, clearly outline the curricular benefits and are low budget. If the show is expensive then you might be better contacting the private school sector.
The Fringe Society hosts a number of free networking and information events during the festival. They are a chance to gain guidance and advice, and to meet producers, promoters, agents and fellow Fringe artists. They can be extremely useful if you hope to take your show further after the Fringe.
Promoters, producers and talent scouts register with the Fringe and ask our team for advice on what shows might be suitable for their festival or theatre. So be pro-active, come and speak to us, tell us about your show and what your goals are. That way we can offer clear information and impartial advice to help you target the right people to come and see your work.
Take advantage of your time at the Fringe, make the most of it and seek out those opportunities. Get in touch at email@example.com if you need further details.
Below is a list of useful websites where you can find additional information on touring networks, venue resources, legal issues, contractual responsibilities and many more relevant topics.